Do you remember that demo of The Last of Us that we saw during Sony’s E3 2012 keynote? Looked awesome, didn’t it? In fact, it looked so good that some audiences thought it was a little scripted.
It wasn’t. Not in the slightest bit.
Sony not only hosted, but invited us to a private screening of The Last of Us, where a Naughty Dog lead designer would play the game for a small group of journalists. The demo started at the exact same point in the game as in Sony’s press conference; Ellie and Joel were trying to escape from a band of hijackers. But trust me, it did not at all play out the same way.
The main point I – and Naughty Dog – wanted to bring to light is that The Last of Us can be played in a plethora of different ways. So many ways that it’s actually kind of exciting, to be honest.
The best part of it all is that you aren’t presented with “path A” or “path B” to choose from. The game plays out totally different just by how you play through a certain area. For example, depending on what has happened, Ellie and Joel will have totally different lines of dialogue. But it goes even further. Enemies will react completely different depending on how the battle is being played out.
During Sony’s conference, you saw Joel take on all enemies one after another, and then taking on a few of them at the same time in one last finale of a fight. However, Naughty Dog showed us just how different things can be. Like I said, we were demoed the exact same part of the game, but in a much more stealthy fashion. The lead designer took down enemies slowly, one after another, and each time he did, it looked more and more scripted every single time – but it wasn’t. That’s just a testament to how good the game looks and how high the production value is.
So what was so different? Since the enemies were being picked off one-by-one, when the last goon realized he was alone, he was smart enough to decide he should run. This is where the demo really went off the rails from what we saw. Knowing that he couldn’t let the threat escape, Naughty Dog was controlling Joel as the game completely transitioned into cat-and-mouse style gameplay. As the player, you’ll have to listen, watch, and wait for queues when chasing an enemy. You really feel like a hunter stalking its prey.
Eventually, Joel encountered the last goon, and not only shot him, but set him on fire with a Molotov cocktail. Soon after, Ellie regrouped with Joel and commented on how brutal that kill was. It wasn’t just a throwaway comment, either. It was a really well thought out conversation that gave us some insight into both character’s personalities
I wish I could do a better job of explaining to you everything that played out differently, but I wouldn’t be doing the game justice. Naughty Dog has done a tremendous job in making The Last of Us’ world feel extremely rich and real. That, paired up with the fact that Ellie and Joel have been carefully designed – in both voice acting and dialogue – to feel like very real people, makes The Last of Us one of the most cinematic, realistic, and jaw-dropping games of all time – not just of E3.
You’ll have to wait for an official trailer, or the retail release to see exactly what I mean about how differently that area can play out, so check back to PSU and we’ll keep you completely covered on The Last of Us as news (or trailers) breaks.